In some types of cases, not having counsel can make a dramatic difference. Take the example of low-income tenants facing eviction. Across the county, roughly 90 percent of landlords are represented by counsel, while 90 percent of tenants are not. Simply having a lawyer increases the odds of being able to stay in one’s home. When tenants represent themselves in New York City, they are evicted in nearly 50 percent of cases. With a lawyer, they win 90 percent of the time.
To fulfill their role as neutral deciders in an adversarial legal system, judges need lawyers. Unrepresented litigants tax the court system and burden the people who work in it. Judges around the country, of all political stripes, are resolute in their support of civil legal aid. Judges support civil legal aid because they value equal justice and the protection of the disadvantaged. They support legal aid because it assists in the efficient and effective administration of the courts they run. They also support legal aid out of self-interest, because it makes their work lives less threatened and more effective.
Don’t you think consistency requires that you should either say ‘I have confidence in all men,’ and take down your notification; or else say, ‘I suspect all men,’ and keep it up."...To say that strangers are not to be trusted, does not that imply something like saying that mankind is not to be trusted; for the mass of mankind, are they not necessarily strangers to each individual man?
Language is my love, and though I am fascinated by all languages and cultures, I am, alas, fluent in only one. My Spanish is sporadic, my French frankly poor, my German generally forgotten, my Italian too long ignored, and my Polynesian languages painfully all but non-existent now. And so it is that this website is devoted to the prose of the only language that has endured in my memory over the years: English. I hope that you will join me in exploring and analyzing this diverse and ever-changing language and share with me your thoughts on its usage and development.

Or at least R.I.P. for non-lawyer pro se litigants. Just when you thought the Supreme Court season had finally come to a close, the Court released a new rule book this morning. It’s 80 pages long and mostly a rehash, but the addition of Rule 28.8 garnered some attention for finally closing a door on the practice of non-lawyers arguing before the Court.
We tested two predictions in Study 2: (1) whether self-affirmation increased feelings of self-compassion but not compassionate feelings toward others, and (2) whether trait self-compassion moderates the self-affirmation self-compassion effect, such that self-affirmation would be more likely to increase self-compassionate feelings among participants who had pre-existing low levels of trait self-compassion. To test these predictions, we conducted a multiple regression analysis that modeled the self-affirmation × video condition interaction, and the 3-way trait self-compassion × self-affirmation × video condition interaction. Specifically, this multiple regression analysis included the trait self-compassion continuous predictor variable, self-affirmation condition (self-affirmation = 1 or control = 0), and video condition (self = 1 or other video = 0) as predictor variables, along with their two-way interactions, and one 3-way interaction term. Table ​Table11 provides the results of this multiple regression analysis for compassionate feelings to the storytelling video, and Figure ​Figure33 visually depicts the results. Notably, this regression analysis revealed a significant main effect of video condition, such that those who watched their own video had lower feelings of compassion than those who watched the confederate’s video [β = -2.31, t(69) = -3.96, p < 0.005]. Moreover, we observed a significant trait self-compassion × video condition interaction, showing that participants lower in trait self-compassion rated their own video less favorably relative to participants higher in trait self-compassion (whereas trait self-compassion did not impact ratings of a peer’s video). This result conceptually replicates previous research showing that trait self-compassion moderates behavioral self-compassion to a storytelling video (Leary et al., 2007).

Don’t you think consistency requires that you should either say ‘I have confidence in all men,’ and take down your notification; or else say, ‘I suspect all men,’ and keep it up."...To say that strangers are not to be trusted, does not that imply something like saying that mankind is not to be trusted; for the mass of mankind, are they not necessarily strangers to each individual man?
Canon 2B. Testimony as a character witness injects the prestige of the judicial office into the proceeding in which the judge testifies and may be perceived as an official testimonial. A judge should discourage a party from requiring the judge to testify as a character witness except in unusual circumstances when the demands of justice require. This Canon does not create a privilege against testifying in response to an official summons.

23Lorelei Laird, “Judges Reflect on Dealing with Difficult Pro Se Litigants,” ABA Journal, July 31, 2015 [LINK]; Arkansas Access to Justice Commission, “Survey of Arkansas Circuit Court Judges Regarding Self-Represented [Pro Se] Litigants” (Little Rock: Little Rock Access to Justice Commission, 2008) [LINK]; and Allen Baddour, “Civil Pro Se Litigants,” October 2010 [LINK].
Oh my Lord Sonja, you’re my new hero! I went at it with an attorney on Avvo; I asked a legal question and he more or less belittled me for thinking that I had a case and then for thinking that I could actually handle it on my own. This guy was a real jerk! l know I have a winning case but there are not many lawyers in my area that are familiar enough with the statutes to take it pro bono and therefore take the risk. Even the legal opinions that I’ve read say the case law is sparse. Thank you for standing up for pro se litigants and setting the record straight.
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According to Boston Bar Association Task Force 1998 report in every court studied by the task force, litigants without lawyers are present in surprising numbers. In some counties, over 75% of the cases in Probate and Family Courts have at least one party unrepresented. In the Northeast Housing Court, over 50% of the landlords and 92% of the tenants appear without lawyers in summary process cases.[40]
If the novelist is part of this same trade, a con man in his own right, he deserves that same mix of trust and mistrust. He’s out on the road making deals, looking for specimens to exhibit. There he goes, transforming experience into remarkable distilled concoctions of truth. Look at this amazing, original character, calls the novelist, see the skill with which something of human character is revealed. Step right up, enjoy the show. The novelist is in this same spot between the general and the particular, offering a meaningful, personal connection through a product of which, if the vagaries of the publishing industry are favorable, vast numbers of copies are made. In The Confidence-Man, Melville’s showing off his showmanship, letting you know he’s bluffing. And that’s the only way you know to trust him.

Still others, like Self-Represented Litigation Network founder Richard Zorza, emphasize simplification of legal processes, including changing or eliminating the procedural and evidentiary rules that make the process so difficult. For example, the Tennessee Supreme Court has approved plain-language forms and instructions, written at a fifth- to eighth-grade reading level, for use in uncontested divorces between parties with minor children.

2. Most district courts require you to have an original copy, a copy for each defendant, and an extra. Ask your clerk if they require more copies, and don't forget to keep a copy for yourself. 3. When you go to the district court's office, follow the clerk's instruction. They tend to be very helpful, and will usually lead you through the rest of the process. The clerk will give you a civil cover sheet to fill out while you are there. That cover sheet will be attached to your Pro Se. The clerk will help you, if you need assistance.
access to justice admissions affirmative defenses answer appeal bias case analysis Case Manager civil legal aid complaint constitution court reporter criminal discovery elements of a claim emotions eviction evidence hearing hearings how to win in court judicial bias jurisdiction justice Lawyers We Love legal analysis legal argument Legal Bits legal case management legal research litigation litigation stages litigation strategy motion for summary judgment motion to dismiss oral argument pro se litigants pro se litigation Richard Zorza rules of civil procedure self-representation statute of limitations strategy summary judgment unbundled legal services
Trial attorneys who are not mindful of the psychological and sociological elements at play when litigating against pro se parties risk exacerbating an already difficult situation by increasing the likelihood of protracted and unfocused litigation, appealable procedural missteps, and unmanaged expectations. Thus, at the outset of the lawsuit, an attorney facing a pro se opponent should make every effort to determine what is motivating the litigation (e.g., hurt feelings, anger, unmitigated expectations) and, if possible, the reason for the lack of representation. Throughout the pretrial process and during trial, a primary objective of counsel should be to strategically allow the pro se litigant to air his or her grievances in such a way as to limit the scope of triable issues while still being satisfied with his or her day in court.
The Center helps judges and courts advance access to civil justice, especially for poor and low-income individuals, by offering resources on 15 strategies and technical assistance. It works closely with the Conference of Chief Justices, the Conference of State Court Administrators and other national court organizations to implement access-to-justice solutions.

Pitting pro se litigants against lawyers as if lawyers are enemies does far more disservice to your clients. I looked at your website, and I see that you toe a fine line between practicing without a license and simply giving pro se litigants enough rope to hang themselves. I understand that it’s a gimmick to make money for yourselves, but the nobler thing to do would be to direct these people to pro bono services instead of guiding them to shooting themselves in the foot by acting like the opposing party’s lawyer is out to get them and that what they don’t understand about the practice of law is somehow a trick or deception.

Few places in Melville’s day could be more representative of a market society than a Mississippi steamboat. It is a place in a constant state of flux. Arrivals, departures, and the passage from one port to the next create a stream of strangers, an environment in which all interactions are constrained by the impermanence of the contact between the parties. Melville’s description of the boat is almost Heraclitean:


Every Supreme Court Justice is in charge of a judicial circuit in the country. The justices and the Judicial Conference of the United States should make each federal judge understand that they are expected to treat pro se litigants with respect and without disdain. They should make clear that judicial councils will take complaints seriously if judges behave in a prejudicial manner toward litigants who represent themselves.

Now most pro se litigants are at a disadvantage in contested litigation. It may be awkward or inappropriate for them to appear both as counsel and as a witness. They're deprived of the judgment of an independent third party in framing the case, in evaluating how to present the evidence and in forming legal arguments and also in making sure that it is reason rather than emotion that steers how the case is conducted. That's why Judges sometimes warn a party who is proceeding pro se of the old saying that anyone who represents himself in court has a fool for a client and an ass for an attorney.


Money changes people, but it also is changed itself. All cash is change. In Debt: The First 5,000 Years, David Graeber, drawing on British classicist Richard Seaford’s Money and the Early Greek Mind, suggests a link between the history of coinage and that of philosophy. The Greek city of Miletus was, around 600 BC, perhaps the first city where coins instead of credit were used in daily life. Around the same time, Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes were arguing that there was a universal substance that could turn into everything else—water, or air, or a special substance called the apeiron. They theorized that this material could, under different conditions, be transmuted into anything. The analogy is clearer if you think of gold as the universal substance The metal in a coin has its own physical characteristics, as do seashells or fire or the enormous stone disks of the isle of Yap. Owing to particular social circumstances, that metal has an additional property of being exchangeable for anything, provided you have enough of it and someone else has and will give up what you want. But here one runs into a contradiction that's vexed thinkers since the Axial Age. Are there fixed, natural reasons for gold to be worth something, or is it an arbitrary social convention? It’s been very important to a number of people to insist that there’s a particular value embodied in gold. This is a question about how much you can trust money.
Self-affirmation (vs. control) participants had a significantly greater increase in feelings of state compassion pre–post writing. Specifically, a one-way ANOVA (condition: self-affirmation or control) revealed a significant difference in state compassionate feelings [F(1,50) = 4.23, p = 0.05, η2 = 0.08]: self-affirmation participants had a greater pre-post-writing change in state compassion (M = 1.84, SD = 3.3) compared to control participants (M = -0.11, SD = 3.52). A 2 (condition: self-affirmation or control) × 2 (time: pre- and post-writing) repeated measures ANOVA [affirmation X time interaction F(1,50) = 4.23, p = 0.05, η2 = 0.08] yielded the same effect as the one-way ANOVA using the affect change score: self-affirmation increased state compassion pre-post-writing, compared to the control group.
Our research makes clear that the large number of unrepresented citizens overwhelming the nation’s courts has negative consequences not only for them but also for the effectiveness and efficiency of courts striving to serve these and other segments of the community who need their disputes resolved. More staff time is required to assist unrepresented parties. In the absence of a fair presentation of relevant facts, court procedures are slowed, backlogs of other court cases occur, and judges confront the challenge of maintaining their impartiality while preventing injustice.20
In Study 1 we found that self-affirmation increased feelings related to state self-compassion, and these feelings statistically explained how self-affirmation increased pro-social behavior to a shelf-collapse event. Self-affirmation also increased desire for charitable giving, but we were not able to shed light on the process explaining this effect in Study 1. And notably, although Study 1 was appropriately powered to test main effects of self-affirmation on self-compassion and helping outcomes, it was underpowered to test potential mediating pathways. Nonetheless, Study 1 provided the first test of sensitive pre-post-affirmation changes in affective mechanisms (including self-compassion) of behavioral helping to a shelf-collapse incident (see Figure ​Figure11). Our results provide preliminary evidence that self-affirmation increases compassionate feelings compared to the control writing exercise. In accordance with the self-compassion perspective, affirmation increased compassionate feelings (e.g., sympathy) but also decreased self-criticism dimensions (e.g., critical; consistent with theoretical accounts of self-compassion, Neff, 2003a). Though our results do not suggest that feelings of love or connection or general positive affect mediate the effects of self-affirmation on pro-social behavior, we can not definitively rule out that possibility.
Participants rated affect items “right now” before and after the affirmation exercise on a 5-point Likert scale (not at all to extremely; Watson et al., 1988). Affect items were selected based on Crocker et al. (2008; Figure ​Figure11), and allowed us to test for changes in feelings related to the construct of self-compassion (e.g., greater sympathy, less criticism; cf. Neff, 2003a) and to test single item measures of social connection previously implicated in self-affirmation effects (e.g., love; Crocker et al., 2008; see Measures). To ensure participants did not link the affirmation activity with the subsequent pro-social dependent measure and to reduce suspicion, participants then completed a 12-item bogus sentence-unscrambling “language” task (consistent with our cover story).
There are, however, a number of limitations that courts impose upon pro se litigation. In Minnesota, for example, organizations such as corporations or other businesses cannot represent themselves, although Conciliation Court allows pro se representation with proper written authorization. Corporate entities are considered in the eyes of the law as a separate individual and generally need to be represented by legal counsel, rather than an individual or even the proprietor of the business. However, more obligations and obstacles on courts and litigants in connection with pro se litigation.
Alternatively, as suggested by previous theorizing and research (Sherman and Cohen, 2006), we tested whether changes in overall state positive affect could explain increased helping behavior (Isen and Levin, 1972). We created a composite measure of state positive affect (five items: hopeful, secure, joyful, confident, and open; pre α = 0.77, post α = 0.84) before and after the affirmation writing manipulation. The self-affirmation group did not have greater increases in general positive affect [as assessed by a one-way ANOVA on the composite state positive affect change score: F(1,50) = 0.05, p = 0.83] compared to the control group, indicating that changes in state positive affect is not a viable mediator.
Canon 3A(6). The admonition against public comment about the merits of a pending or impending matter continues until the appellate process is complete. If the public comment involves a case from the judge’s own court, the judge should take particular care so that the comment does not denigrate public confidence in the judiciary’s integrity and impartiality, which would violate Canon 2A. A judge may comment publicly on proceedings in which the judge is a litigant in a personal capacity, but not on mandamus proceedings when the judge is a litigant in an official capacity (but the judge may respond in accordance with Fed. R. App. P. 21(b)).
Make sure you follow those instructions! At that point, you will be given so many days to serve the defendant with the court summons. In some districts, the plaintiff has the choice of either delivering the summons himself, a friend deliver it, or having a federal Marshal deliver it. It is most effective to have either a federal Marshal deliver the summons, or a really big guy in a suit. Whoever delivers the summons must make a note of who the summons is delivered to, what the date is, and what time it was delivered. Record this information on the appropriate form that is sent to you with the summons, and take it back to the district court.
Congress also has a role. In extreme cases it has the power to remove judges, of course. But short of that, it can at least underscore the seriousness of the rights it established for litigants in the Judiciary Act. Whether through binding or nonbinding language on the topic, Congress can make clear that complaints about violations of the rights of pro se litigants must be taken very seriously by judicial councils.
Congress also has a role. In extreme cases it has the power to remove judges, of course. But short of that, it can at least underscore the seriousness of the rights it established for litigants in the Judiciary Act. Whether through binding or nonbinding language on the topic, Congress can make clear that complaints about violations of the rights of pro se litigants must be taken very seriously by judicial councils.
Canon 2B. Testimony as a character witness injects the prestige of the judicial office into the proceeding in which the judge testifies and may be perceived as an official testimonial. A judge should discourage a party from requiring the judge to testify as a character witness except in unusual circumstances when the demands of justice require. This Canon does not create a privilege against testifying in response to an official summons.
I did in fact include the notice advising the defendant’s atty of the consequences of the failure to answer the request, as stated in the ORCP 45 Rule. The 30 days allotted by 45 B have elapsed and I have received no response at all, either admitting, denying or objecting to the request. I’m preparing the Motion To Determine Sufficiency, and I will follow your counsel by including a copy of the Request For Admissions, even though I filed a copy with the Court, along with proof of service, on the day I served the request to the defendant’s lawyer. If the Judge grants the motion, issues an Order… well, my case is halfway won. And, I won’t have to drag a handfull of witnesses into court, against their will, to testify. Many times I’ve felt overwhelmed by this, ready to fold my hand even though I know the defendant’s lawyer is bluffing, trying to intimidate me into giving up. Thank you very much for your knowledge, your advice, and your encouragement. I’m thinking I may very well prevail afterall.
(H) Compensation, Reimbursement, and Financial Reporting. A judge may accept compensation and reimbursement of expenses for the law-related and extrajudicial activities permitted by this Code if the source of the payments does not give the appearance of influencing the judge in the judge’s judicial duties or otherwise give the appearance of impropriety, subject to the following restrictions:
Pro Se One Stop Legal Document Services, LLC is a non-lawyer document preparation service dedicated to saving you time and money with your legal matters and helping you to avoid unnecessary attorney’s fees. We are not attorneys and we do not offer legal advice, but we do provide high quality legal document preparation services with a high attention to detail in various areas, predominantly family and civil matters. We are conscientious of our customer’s unique, individual needs and differing scenarios.
(C) Fund Raising. A judge may assist nonprofit law-related, civic, charitable, educational, religious, or social organizations in planning fund-raising activities and may be listed as an officer, director, or trustee. A judge may solicit funds for such an organization from judges over whom the judge does not exercise supervisory or appellate authority and from members of the judge’s family. Otherwise, a judge should not personally participate in fund-raising activities, solicit funds for any organization, or use or permit the use of the prestige of judicial office for that purpose. A judge should not personally participate in membership solicitation if the solicitation might reasonably be perceived as coercive or is essentially a fund-raising mechanism.
With 90 percent of Americans facing potential lawsuits at least once in their lives, being prepared can mean the difference between winning and losing. Pick up a copy of “How to Represent Yourself in Court—Winning Big without a Lawyer” and let Gary Zeidwig show you how to best prepare yourself in the event you find yourself in court fighting for your rights. Don’t wait until a lawsuit presents itself. By then, it might be too late.
Yet the world of the ship is also a land of gab. Conversations and wheeling and dealing break out constantly. There’s a kind of aspirational sociability to life among strangers. It’s always possible that you’re walking into a den of thieves, but it’s more likely that most people are basically decent. If we took a position of total mistrust, we’d all wind up staying in our rooms the whole time to avoid getting fleeced or stabbed. There has to be some baseline level of confidence for exchange to occur, or even for people to just get along and pick up a story or two. Melville’s character hits people where they’re most vulnerable: by trying to act decently, by trying to follow humane norms of behavior, they end up suckers. A minister, for instance, denounces the embittered fellow who says a cripple is an imposter in blackface and gives the beggar a coin (rather than throwing it in his mouth, the cruel sport of the other guests). For his trouble he is rewarded with a visit from a man in gray, who praises him and says, “Since you are of this truly charitable nature, you will not turn away an appeal in behalf of the Seminole Widow and Orphan Asylum?” But the cynics don’t fare any better: a stingy miser buys some herbal concoction in the hope that it will soothe his pain, and a misanthrope who’d rather have machines than boys work his farm agrees to take on a lad from another smooth operator’s Philosophical Intelligence Office, a kind of antebellum temp agency. The confidence-man worms his way into the pockets of trusting and suspicious passengers alike.
99.9999999999999999999999999999999999(SHOULD I GO ON)999999999999999 of the time when a pro per (you) goes up against an attorney in Court you will lose. I cant tell you how often I have defended clients against a pro se litigant who think they just have the best case and then it blows apart like flour in a fan when you get into Court. Non-attorneys are held to the same standard as attorneys. Everyone in the world, even the judge would prefer that you retain counsel. The reason why is simple, your not a lawyer. If you have a case, I am sure that you will find an attorney to represent you.
Or at least R.I.P. for non-lawyer pro se litigants. Just when you thought the Supreme Court season had finally come to a close, the Court released a new rule book this morning. It’s 80 pages long and mostly a rehash, but the addition of Rule 28.8 garnered some attention for finally closing a door on the practice of non-lawyers arguing before the Court.
Settle! Of course, given the unique obstacles involved with litigating against a pro se party—including the absence of the important buffer between the party and his or her emotions and, more times than not, unreasonable expectations—the key to trial success may be avoiding trial altogether! To that end, early alternative dispute resolution proceedings can be exceedingly beneficial. A neutral third party can often insert reasonableness otherwise lacking into the pro se party’s view of the strengths and weaknesses of the case.
United States federal courts created the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system to obtain case and docket information from the United States district courts, United States courts of appeals, and United States bankruptcy courts.[68] The system, managed by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, allows lawyers and self-represented clients to obtain documents entered in the case much faster than regular mail.[68] However, the system charges fees, which were the subject of a class action lawsuit ongoing as of 2019.[69] Several federal courts published general guidelines for pro se litigants and Civil Rights complaint forms.[70][71][72][73]
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